As I’ve mentioned many times, I used to be firmly entrenched in Pentacostal/Charismatic circles.  As Michael noted in his last post, that while non-Charismatics have an expectation for God to move in their lives, there seems to be a higher level of expectation amongst Charismatics.  I think that’s true and something that I actually applaud as evidenced in this post here that I did some time back, An Ode to Pentacostalism.  I think that is something I will always treasure and keep with me.

However, during my time as a Charismatic, it seems that this higher level of expectation always resulted in a quest for more.  We needed a greater happenings, more miraculous signs (not that anything I witnessed ever really qualified as such), more healing, more deliverance, more prophecies, generally a greater move of God.  Whatever was existent never seemed to be enough.   Since I served on the worship team for four years (keyboards/vocals), the expectation was that we would serve as the catalyst to make this happen, to “usher in the presence of God”, as was stated so many Sundays.   Naturally, one of my favorite “soft music” tunes to play was Michael W. Smith’s, More Love More Power.  Yes we really did need more of God in our lives and looked for it in external manifestations in order to affect an internal change.

It seems to me there remained a continual state of dissatisfaction that only more could fill.  And I have noticed that even in churches that do not necessarily carry the Charismatic label, but are very mainstream in their approach have fallen victim to the “more” mentality.   The desire for church growth translates into more people, bigger churches, and more programs.  To be sure, I had heard on several occasions that we know God is doing something when the seats start filling up and we outgrow the space.

But I wonder if the “more” mentality is an accurate reflection of the spiritual growth, deepened understanding and knowledge of Christ that the Biblical prescription for growth says should be ours.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that we should find superficial devotion and understanding unsatisfactory and that every day should be met with a quest for a deeper connection with God and a richer knowledge of Christ.  Not just to know, but to have that knowledge lived out in tangible ways.  But I question if the greater occurences we seek is symptomatic of a deeper spiritual quest or that fact that we just need more excitement in our lives.  Things get mundane and we get bored.

And I especially raise this question in relation to Charismatic leanings since it does represent, based on my experience, a desire for inward revival based on outward means.  Or sometimes it might just be the outward signs that point to the fact that God is up to something, that is demonstrated through a display of the sign gifts that many believe should be in existence everywhere today.  So this is not to question the validity of the gift, but the motivation behind seeing them displayed.  Are we earnestly seeking gifts to know Christ better and fulfill His program?  Because it seems to me that possibly by equating the need for these demonstrations necessarily implies that what we have is insufficient.   The Bible becomes a springboard to launch us into greater depths rather than being the instrument through which those greater depths are attained.

What is Sufficient?

One of the main reasons I stepped away from the Charismatic movement is that I began to see the transitional significance of Acts rather than it being the prescription that I had been taught.  I started looking at the occurrences in Acts in context of God’s overall program of redemption, for the Jew first and then the Gentile, that Christ initiated through the cross and His subsequent ascension into heaven.  I began to consider how the events displayed in Acts described what happened as this new way through Christ was introduced and the church implemented.  Even then, I wrestled with the sign gifts for a good while.

A consideration of this overall context and the descriptive narrative of Acts forced me to re-examine the teaching of 2nd baptism.  Undoubtedly the prima facie reading, when read in isolation, suggests this to be optional, that in Christ one would still have to obtain an additional empowerment, known as the 2nd baptism.  After all, this is what happened to them.  However, in light of the fact that what was equated with 2nd baptism (Acts 2:1-4), was really the first baptism as the church began, beginning with the Jews then incorporating the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-11:18).  After all,  the apostles had had Jesus with them, but He was going away with the promise of enablement for them to carry out His works and to testify of Him (John 14:26; 16:13-14).  It does seem reasonable the Spirit would empower in this way for the new introduction into how people would relate to God.  It also appears reasonable that although baptism occurred in manner in the beginning, when these passages are reconciled with other passages such as I Corinthians 12:13 and Galatians 3:27, it demonstrates an  instantaneous baptism by and indwelling of the Spirit for every believer; an inward renewal to affect an outward change.

That means when the Holy Spirit baptizes a believer into the kingdom, the believer gets the fullness of  the Holy Spirit; they get all the Spirit they are going to get.  So there is a sufficiency of the indwelling of the Spirit.  What then do we make of being filled with the Spirit?  More Spirit?  Being filled with the Spirit does not mean we get a greater degree of Spirit but rather allow the Spirit to have more of us.  It is wielding control to the Spirit, so that He who bears the presence of God and the testimony of Christ, my reign in us, affecting God’s agenda and not ours. It is like having two substances in a container.  You can’t increase the capacity of the container but you can shift the ingredients inside, so that by decreasing one, the other will occupy more space. Isn’t this why Paul says in Galatians 5:16-17 to follow after the Spirit, lest we be consumed by the desires of the flesh.  There is an indirectly proportional relationship.  The more of one you have, the less of the other.

I also find there is a sufficiency in Christ and it all starts with how God has made Himself known.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He [the Son] is the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:1-3, NASB)

The transition is remarkable.  God expressed Himself, He made Himself known to mankind through the prophets and through other vehicles such as dreams and visions, but now He is revealed in Christ.  Revelation is a tricky word I think and one that, in my opinion, has been overused, misused and abused.  We use it for any kind of discovery but I think that does a disservice to God’s revelation that He has purposed towards us.  It is up to the one revealing to provide disclosure and we see the summation of His revelation in Christ.  After all didn’t Jesus say, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father?  All things are summed up in Christ (Ephesians 1:10), all God’s purposes end in Christ (Ephesians 1:9; 3:11), all previous mysteries and plans are revealed in Christ (Colossians 1:26-27; Ephesians 3:5-6), and all instruction is for the purpose of completing every person in complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28).  We who claim Christ as Savior have been made complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).  That means He is all sufficient.  What further are we looking for?

So what does that mean for us today?  Does it mean that God is revealed in Christ and has left us hanging?  No, because God saw fit to breathe out His word to us through the pens of 40 authors that testifies of this revelation through 66 books of inspired writing.  As Geisler and Nix put it “the sacred Scriptures are expressive of the mind of God”…[they] are the God breathed revelation of God.”(General Introduction to the Bible, pg 34)  So inspiration, another misused word, means God-breathed and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that this revelation inscribed for us, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  This means it is sufficient.  This means the search for further authoritative instruction can end.  Christ sat down and sits at the right hand of God and we have His word.  But the word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and invigorates the Spirit inside the believer for daily communion, internal revival, infectious living and purposed ministry to be ambassadors of Christ to a lost and dying world and selfless servants to each other.

So we have sufficiency of the Spirit, sufficiency of Christ, sufficiency of the Word.

What’s Missing?

I contend that the insufficiency resides with us.  We are what is missing. It seems to me that if we have the everything we need sufficient for life and godliness, as 2 Peter 1:3 tells us, that the more we are seeking may not be found in greater external manifestations but a greater capacity for divine connectedness.  So maybe that means more surrender, more worship, more learning, more kneeling, more prayer, more giving, and more service.  We can’t get anymore of something we already have but I am assured each day that the Spirit can always have more of us in order to affect an external change through an inward renewal.  And that, I believe was the intention all along.

    86 replies to "A Theology of More"

    • cheryl u


      I do need to tell you that while I differ from you in your viewpoint here on whether the gifts continue or not, there is something that you have said in your article that I agree with 100%. That is the whole dissatisfaction you spoke of that seems to keep people always crying out for “more”. In the groups I came out of the cry was always for “more”. There is certainly a place in a Christian’s life for “more” but not when it comes at the cost of never being safistifed with what God has given us. After all, Jesus did say that the one that drinks from Him will never thirst again. In contrast with that is the idea that we are to constantly hungering and thirsting for more “experience.” The resulting experience often becomes something that seems to have no Biblical basis at all and is, in fact, as far as I can tell quite unbiblical. I think you are correct when you say people get bored and want more excitement. It seems that often now days it is not simply wanting more of the gifts as actually spoken of in the Bible, but more of the “drunk in the spirit” ecstatic type of experiences that are so often found in some churches these days. I think that type of a hunger for more becomes a very addicting and deceiving thing.

    • rayner markley

      Eclectic, do you allow any consideration for individual personality? Do you think God does?

    • Rayner,

      God has this habit of taking people way outside their comfort zone: Moses with his speech, Jeremiah and Gideon with their youth. I have met a lot of people who have said in the past, “I am willing to do anything for you God except X.” X is what they usually end up doing.

      There is nothing wrong with saying, “My personality is like X, so I prefer a style of worship that fits with my personality.” As long as we also remember that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength.” Worship is a whole body experience, and God wants all of us.

      One thing that I have had to deal with is a very severe stutter. It would have been far to easy for me to say, “I have a stutter, so I am only going to do X, Y, and Z.” Instead God has blessed me with all kinds of different responsibilities, almost all of which have involved public speaking. All of this has happened because I have tried to be open to anything that God might want me to do.

      I am a pretty cerebral guy myself. I have never spoken in tongues, I have never been “slain in the Spirit”, God has never given me a prophecy. But I want to remain open to these things in case God wants to further his Kingdom by giving me these gifts.

      What if God were to give you a vision and absolutely confirmed to you that it was from him. Would that be going against your personality? What would you do with it?

      God has made each of us different. There are several Biblical passages talking about the church being one body and many parts. Just make sure that you are not saying to God that you only willing to be the arm when he really wants you to be the leg.

    • Susan

      Hey Lisa, I appreciate your wise thoughts here…good conclusions. It’s also interesting to me to hear it from one who experienced things from the inside of a Pentecostal church for a long time. You have addressed some things I have long wondered about.

    • Leslie

      And Lisa, when I read about your past experience in speaking in “tongues”, I also remembered my episode when I was three years old as a Christian. Since I didn’t see any good in my life from the “blabbering”, I just stopped it!

    • ScottL

      Yes, Lisa, your grace and interaction is always amazing.

      What was the apostolic authority about and why does Acts repeated associate the signs and wonders with the apostles? Again, it was for the testimony of Christ, which the authors of the NT penned as inspired writings.

      What about those who were not apostles but were used in signs and wonders?

      Stephen (Acts 6:8)
      Philip (Acts 8:4-7)
      Ananias (Acts 9:17-18)

      What about James, who was an apostle (Gal 1:19), but we have no confirmation that he was used in such?

      And what about prophecy and tongues, which are considered ‘sign’ gifts by many? They weren’t apostles, but these people were used and functioned with such.

      The 120 believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:4)
      Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:46)
      Agabus (Acts 11:37-38; 21:10-11)
      The Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:6)
      The whole group of Corinthians believers (1 Cor 14)

      The ‘signs of a true apostle’ that Paul mentions in 2 Cor 12:12 speaks of suffering and giving your life for those whom you work with. That is the whole context of 2 Cor 11 and 12. Paul was used in signs, wonders and mighty works. But, in the context, the ‘true signs of an apostle’ are not connected to miraculous signs. They are connected to suffering and giving their lives for the people whom they serve, which was contrary to the ‘super-apostles’ Paul spoke of. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know his ministry is confirmed by the ‘true signs of an apostle’, as well as being used in signs, wonders and miracles.

      I think apostles are used in such things, and I am even fine to say they are used more in these giftings than other people. But it is difficult to make a hard-line connection between apostles and signs/wonders.

    • Stan Hankins

      I have a charasmatic friend who tells me that Jesus appears to him sometimes while he is shaving. When I ask him how he knows it is Jesus, he says, because he tells me!! Amazing.

      “And this is no wonder, for even Satan himself appears as an angel of light”

      When Jesus does appear, we will all know it. He will come with the clouds and in great power and glory, and all the earth will marvel and mourn. All people will bow to His majesty when He does appear.

      I wanted to ask my friend, “When Jesus appears to you while you are shaving, do you keep shaving?”

    • ScottL

      Stan –

      These kind of things are cause for concern, no doubt. I don’t think it is outrightly impossible for Christ to appear to us in visions and dreams. He is the revealer of such things and we read such are available in the full last days (Acts 2:17-18), which is the period between the first and second comings of Christ. I would probably say it is safe to assume, though, that there will be no appearances like what is spoken of in 1 Cor 15:3-8, knowing Paul’s words ‘last of all…he appeared to me’.

      Still, I wouldn’t let the over-the-top testimonies be the swaying factor of what we believe. Just as I cannot let the testimony of one cessationist who says they have never experienced a healing, miracle or prophecy sway me into cessationism, so we cannot let the over-the-top charismatic stuff be they swaying factor for us to keep us from believing these gifts are still for today. We have to guard against both of these scenarios.

      And I would say be gracious, if at all possible, with your friend.

    • jim


      I am 67 with a 37 year experience in what used to be called “old-time holiness”, but which has evolved into a form of television, charismatic evangelism. Your post here on the gifts is one of the best I’ve ever encountered and I really appreciate the points you make in your “ode”. I fell into this in ’72 from a “point of no return”, making a literal leap of faith, telling people now that if someone had told me “Buddah can help you”, I’d probably have jumped off that cliff crying to Buddah. I knew nothing of the Bible, nothing of Christ other than a few childhood years in a Lutheran church, and a complete rejection of the whole idea of God when my father died, he being 40, I being 18. I got saved in my living room and no doubt would have later thought it no more than an emotional experience if not for a subsequent “baptism in the Holy Ghost” that met me lyng flat on my back in bed a few months later at a moment when I was doing no more than thanking Him for saving a filthy wretch like me. When the Charismatic movement swept through this nation in the 80s, it seemed to me “good people desiring the real deal, but misguided in the whole affair”. I just posted on my site on how I feel about the gifts and it might interest you. You do not offend me if you reject a stranger’s offer; I am glad you have not “thrown the baby out with the bath water”; and wonder if you have your own site or just post here now and then. I left my old church after 30 years, have sat on the back pew of an AOG for the past 5 years, and have ministered with a few other fellows on a monthly basis at both a local rescue mission and a youth detention center for the last 7 years or so. God’s blessing upon you, my friend……

    • Lisa Robinson

      Jim, I appreciate your comment. I do have my own blog but haven’t written in it in a while. However, I am a regular on Theologica and have my own page there, so feel free to hop on over. Its on the link I provided. In fact, you might actually enjoy the interaction there. Good group of folks that like to discuss the Bible and theology and have a little fun in the process.

      Your comment does highlight one thing. While there might be legitimate expressions of the sign gifts, there is a whole lot of manipulated and feigned expressions out there as well, that have left people disillusioned and exhausted. I am not saying that is the case with you. But it does happen.

      Interestingly, I’ve worked in the field of grant management for homeless programming and other social services for several years. I’ve worked in a veterans shelter and later would manage funding programs that allowed me to work with various homeless service agencies. I appreciate your current ministry.

    • Leslie

      Lisa, just wanted to let you know that your humble responses are refreshing to me, personally. You sound like Charles Ryrie to me!

    • mbaker

      I really liked that phrase ‘internal revival’, Lisa. it resonated with me, having been a past member of a church that way over emphasized the spiritual gifts as well.

      We hear so much promotional hype about world revivals that will save immense numbers of people, and see the spiritual gifts being used more and more for personal promotion of indivudals to gain publicity. No wonder folks are so suspicious of whether the spiritual gifts are genuine or not. It’s become a personal career opportunity in some areas, like here in the northwest, where prophetic conferences are big and lucrative business.

      One of the reasons I left a charismatic church was this over-concentration on the sign gifts, to the exclusion of everything else. There were seminars, workshops and conferences regarding prophecy, how to do it how to get it, etc; It got to the main thrust of the ministry, with everyone and his dog wanting to prophesy because it was in. Somehow Jesus and the gospel got lost in the shuffle. Everything became centered on what the daily prophecies were, and the ‘prophets’ themselves.

      It seems to me that over focus on the sign gifts has become an entire ministry, indeed almost cult like in certain areas of the church. When that happens, the every day practical helps that we are all quietly called to do by Christ, both as individuals and a church, are forgotten, or dismissed as not as important in the rush to make ourselves appear super talented and and hyper spiritual outwardly.

      So, I think big revivals must genuinely begin internally in each believer’s heart first, by asking ourselves where our main focus really should be, and then it will naturally spread outward from there. I’m for less outward emphasis on the sign gifts and more on the redeveloping an inner humble attitude of service in our own hearts like Christ had.

      Thanks for a good look at where you have been as well.

      God bless.

    • vangelicmonk

      In incorporating Kraft’s missiological formula of power, allegiance, and truth encounters to the church itself I think we can learn from what is happening at a missions level to what is needed at a missional level in our walk as saints and to the post-modern world today.

      As someone who is moderately Charismatic as myself attending a church that is basically bent reformed, but non-deonominational I see A LOT of apathetic and complacent people who have mostly all truth encounters and some allegiance encounters in their lives. However, I rarely hear or see power encounters. I don’t expect some crazy thing to happen within the church service or even in every day life. However, I think there should be a balance and not be afraid of seeing the Spirit move. To have a natural desire like Moses to see God’s glory, but being satisfied in how he decides to reveal himself to us in everyday.

      I do believe that most of the people at my church are afraid of the holy spirit on some level. At times literally. I think a balance of these encounters within the modern/post-modern Western church today is important. Now power encounters can come in various ways and don’t always have to be dramatic and crazy. I agree with Lisa that to desire them all the time seeking some type of spiritual adrenaline rush or high is not healthy. To have a balance I think is important. I think that includes power encounters and I think Charismatics/Pent are more open and experience those real ones more often than evangelicals who are willing to avoid them in fear of it being “heretical” or not fitting within their theological framework.

    • Phil McCheddar

      If the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a crisis experience available to all believers after conversion, then I would expect Paul and the other authors of the NT epistles to urge their readers to seek that experience — but instead there is a deafening silence. The congregations receiving the NT epistles would have consisted of a wide cross-section of believers at various stages of spiritual growth, including presumably some recent converts. The NT epistles exhort the readers to mortify their sins, to grow in love and holiness, to walk in the Spirit and to be filled with the Spirit — but there is nothing about seeking a crisis experience of the Holy Spirit that would transform their lives and shift them up a gear and endue them with extra power to make them really effective spiritually. Paul’s pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus instruct these men in how to build up the church through teaching, preaching, public reading of Scripture, evangelism, admonishment, discipline, setting a good example, etc. but there is nothing about urging their flocks to seek the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. (There is a similar significant absence of instructions to believers to get themselves exorcised of demons.)

    • EricW

      Paul’s pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus instruct these men in how to build up the church through teaching, preaching, public reading of Scripture, evangelism, admonishment, discipline, setting a good example, etc. but there is nothing about urging their flocks to seek the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

      A thought:

      Maybe it’s because all the members of the flock had already been baptized in/with/by the Holy Spirit at the time of, or shortly subsequent to, their conversion and water baptism. I.e., to tell Timothy and Titus to get their congregration rebaptized in/with/by the Holy Spirit would have been as redundant (and regressive) as telling them to again have their flock get water-baptized or to again have them put their faith in Jesus for salvation.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Eric, that presumes that everyone would have asked. Can we honestly make that assumption? I am not sure if you are arguing for a second baptism, but if so, what then do we do with I Cor 12:13 – we are baptized into one body by the Spirit. If a person is converted and not baptized by the Spirit, that means some are baptized into the kingdom and some are not? That doesn’t make any sense does it? Also, consider Eph 4:5, ‘there is one baptism’. That cannot be referring to water baptism.

      It’s interesting that advocates of the 2nd baptism indicate its something that happens after conversion. But I would ask how is it exactly that we are converted and what is the Spirit’s role in that?

    • EricW

      Also, consider Eph 4:5, ‘there is one baptism’. That cannot be referring to water baptism.


      How can you positively assume or conclude that Ephesians 4:5 cannot be referring to water baptism? IIRC, that’s apparently what the bishops who authored the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed asserted it to mean: “I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”

      In fact, Hebrews 6:4-6 can be understood as an argument against rebaptism, which was one of the earliest church controversies. parapesontas in Hebrews 6:6 is often translated “and have fallen away,” but its relation to paraptôma – “sin/transgression” – cannot be overlooked as was pointed out in a paper delivered at ETS in San Antonio, TX, a few years ago. The question of whether or not baptism covered post-baptismal sins, and whether a person who sinned after having been baptized needed to be rebaptized or even could be rebaptized (i.e., was baptism something that could be done again), figures in some of the earliest writings of the Church Fathers (e.g., Tertullian, I believe).

    • EricW,

      You are correct. Tertullian is the one who argues most strenuously against rebaptism. He is also the one who argues that Baptism of children should be delayed because of the whole post-baptismal sin issue.

    • mbaker

      Some of the teachings about the second baptism are that you cannot get the ‘sign’ gifts without it.

      Does anyone here have thoughts on that?

    • Lisa Robinson

      Eric, let me rephrase. I believe that ‘one baptism’ refers to the spiritual baptism just as I believe the baptism referred to in Romans 6 is spiritual as well and is symbolized by water baptism.

      But my question remains, how are we introduced into the body of Christ, if the Spirit is not baptizing us into the body? That’s why I believe that 1 Cor 12:13 and Gal 3:27 indicate that we are baptized into Christ. If this is not the case, then how does our conversion work? If there is a 2nd baptism, then where do the believers who do not receive a 2nd baptism stand?

    • EricW

      Re: “one” baptism vs. a second (or even third) baptism, or the mode/means/instrument(ality)/method/purpose/result of baptism or baptisms, I suppose (à la Bill Clinton) “it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘baptism’ is.”

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mbaker, if we follow the logic of the 2nd baptism, no gift would be given without it. I contend that is inconsistent with 1 Cor 12 and 1 Peter 4:10, that says all have been given gifts. Nowhere, do we see that the distribution of the gifts is contingent upon a 2nd baptism.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Eric, doesn’t baptize mean to immerse? Consider what it means to be ‘in Christ’, especially as stated repeatedly in Ephesians 1.

    • EricW

      Eric, doesn’t baptize mean to immerse? Consider what it means to be ‘in Christ’, especially as stated repeatedly in Ephesians 1.


      BOOKS have been written on the meaning of “baptism” as well as the meaning(s) of John’s baptism vs. Jesus’s baptism vs. Spirit baptism vs. Christian baptism, as well as how to understand the preposition “en” in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and the verse’s meaning. I assume your seminary library has many of them.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      Many have seen Luke’s emphasis of the role of the Spirit (he uses many differing phrases to speak of the Spirit’s work) is in regards to empowering for service and mission, as well as being used in the charismata. Luke was staying very much in line with the Hebrew/Jewish theology of the ‘Spirit of prophecy’. But Paul has a very heavy emphasis on the soteriological work of the Spirit bringing people into sonship, the new creation and bringing them in union with Christ. I think we have to recognise differing emphases of both Paul and Luke, just as there are differing emphases with the Gospel writers. I don’t think Paul and Luke contradict one another, for they did work together quite a lot. But it’s ok to recognise that they have different emphases in their pneumatology, as the Gospel writers had different purposes for writing their accounts. And I think we cannot push Luke to the side as having no theological contribution. He was not only a historian, but he was also a theologian. This is one of the things brought our by I. Howard Marshall in his book, Luke: Historian and Theologian.

      Thus, it is possible to consider 1 Cor 12:13 as a focus on the soteriological work of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who does a baptism work in our salvation and this incorporates and immerses us into the body of Christ. But Luke would speak of the Spirit baptising, filling, coming upon, etc, the people of God to empower them for serving God and being used in the charismata. It’s something we have to consider.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Eric, you are correct. Many such books exist and I have access to none of them at the moment. I also am aware that ‘en’ can have multiple and nuanced meanings. I am simply working off my own study on the topic as I have striven to understand what baptism refers to, how it is that we are introduced into the kingdom and the role of the Holy Spirit. Without looking at any of the books you mentioned, and just reconciling Scripture with Scripture, how can being baptized into Christ mean anything other than the Spirit doing the work and how can we be introduced into the kingdom otherwise?

      I am open to hear what you have to say. Thanks.

    • EricW


      I’m not sure you can do what you want to do without looking at some of those books and reading what Greek and Christian and Jewish scholars and theologians have to say on the subject(s). The fact that different Christian denominations, including the non-denominations of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, would answer your question differently is evidence that there is or may be no one simple or correct or one-size-fits-all-and-puts-all-objections-to-rest answer.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Scott, thanks for that and I see where the difference lies. I would contend that baptism and filling are 2 separate things. I appreciate Grudem’s treatment of the topic also in his attempts to reconcile the 2 positions in the end game being empowered for service.

      I will have to get back to this later on though as I am under a deadline right now. I would love to flesh this out some more.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      I understand it is the end of the semester for you, so it’s all good.

      You stated: I would contend that baptism and filling are 2 separate things.

      One thing to consider is that Luke uses both phrases, and others, to describe the same action.

      The account of the 120 is spoken as both a baptism (Acts 1:5) and a filling (Acts 2:4). We read that the Samaritans and Cornelius’ household had the Spirit fall on them (Acts 8:16; 10:44). But it is also spoken of the Samaritans as receiving the Spirit (Acts 8:15). When Luke specifically speaks of being ‘filled’ with the Spirit, it is also worth noting whether he is using the aorist (which speaks of a completed event) or the imperfect tense (which seems to speak of something that can be continued). Luke uses both tenses in speaking of being filled with the Spirit.

      Hence, I don’t think Luke was too worried about words and descriptions, but he did have more of an empowering and ‘charismatic’ presentation of the Spirit, whereas Paul focused more on the soteriological purposes.

    • Dave Z

      Hmmm. Preaching on 1 Cor 16 this week and looked at Apollos more closely since Paul mentions him. Interesting comment on him in Acts 25. He was instructed in the way of the Lord, he taught about Jesus accurately, but knew only the baptism of John. That clearly implies he was a believer, yet was lacking some sort of baptism. Maybe a 2nd baptism was part of what he was taught by Aquila and Priscilla?

    • Dave Z,

      If you look at the story of Apollos in Acts 18, in juxtaposition with that of the Ephesian disciples of John in Acts 19, in becomes relatively clear that Apollos because he was already a practicing believer (and past the point of initiation) likely did not receive a second baptism. This was also the stated understanding of the early church fathers, and you will probably find scholarly consensus on the matter. The church fathers are also clear on the matter that the disciples did not receive a second water baptism but only the baptism of John, again probably because they were already established believers and so did not need to go through the initiation rite.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Scott, actually my semester has ended but my deadlines were (are) work related. I live in a pressure cooker 🙁

      You said:

      “Hence, I don’t think Luke was too worried about words and descriptions, but he did have more of an empowering and ‘charismatic’ presentation of the Spirit, whereas Paul focused more on the soteriological purposes.”

      I actually would agree with this but it doesn’t negate what I’ve been saying. The question goes back to what these charismatic presentations represented. I do want to clarify a previous statement I made in that distinguishing between baptism and filling, I was referring more filling for believers, as Paul stated in Eph 5:18.

      In Acts, I do believe that filling and baptism are used interchangeably. So the fact that Acts 1:5 indicates a baptism and Acts 2:4 indicates they were filled, does mean the same thing – they received the Holy Spirit. But the question goes back to the role and work of the Spirit. I contend that since Acts represents a new way of how people would relate to God, starting with Jews then moving out to Gentiles. The spirit seals the salvation deal, so to speak. Consider what Romans 8:9 says, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

      It does seem reasonable that you would have some staggering initially. The fact that people are cited as being disciples or even believing is not necessarily indicative of them being Christians, meaning that they would have received the Spirit because that is the basis of conversion upon belief in Christ. I believe this to be true of the passages in question Acts 8:14-17 and 19:1-7. So the crucial element is that receiving the Spirit is indicative of our salvation. Also consider Romans 8:15-16. The fact that Paul may focus on soteriological aspects and Luke, charismatic aspects in no way negate the fact that role of the Spirit in our conversion. And this is the whole point of the Acts isn’t it? Salvation by faith in Christ brings an empowerment by the Spirit.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Eric, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m doing some research amongst multiple demands.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      I completely agree that we receive the Spirit at salvation/conversion. And this is Paul’s emphasis. Luke’s emphasis is the empowering presence of the Spirit for mission and charismata.

      I think those Samaritans of Acts 8 were ‘born again’ through the preaching of Philip. They received the word. I have no doubt that Luke is reporting their salvation. And I think the Ephesian disciples of Acts 19 were most likely followers of Apollos. Apollos (end of Acts 18) was ‘saved’, though he needed some more help in understanding things, and, thus, I think we can assume his followers would have been. But I know it is up for debate.

      Paul’s ‘filling’ in Eph 5:18 is in regards to regular fillings – ‘go on being filled with the Spirit’. Luke uses the word ‘filling’ in connection with baptism in the Spirit, though there is once when he uses the present imperative like Paul. So Luke can use the word ‘filled’ in regards to the first time or the subsequent times. Paul seems to only be using it in regards to subsequent times.

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